Planeta Junior acquired a stake in ZAG Entertainment: interview to Ignacio Segura
Licensing Italia interviewed Ignacio Segura, CEO of Planeta Junior
by Giulia Rastelli
L.I. You recently acquired a stake in ZAG Entertainment – the culmination of your excellent and longstanding relationship. How did this partnership come about?
Ignacio Segura: Our relationship with ZAG began at the 2016 Licensing Show in Las Vegas. As soon as we caught sight of Ladybug’s eyes on their stand, we knew we were looking at a phenomenon. Girl empowerment and the idea behind the series were a perfect fit for a clear global trend. And our great chemistry with born enthusiast Jeremy Zag, did the rest.
L.I. How did you reach the decision to make this acquisition?
I.S. Planeta Junior recently crossed over from being ‘just’ an Agent to working as more of a Producer/Agent. We have always seen ZAG, its powerful princess, and ZAG Heroez as the strongest independent animation studio around today. Their powerful content, business potential and experience make their characters a major source of income for Planeta Junior.
So we decided to produce their TV series, feature films and the Ladybug Live Show. We already had more than an Agent/Licensor relationship and taking a share in their capital was the natural next step.
L.I. What new projects will arise out of this deal?
I.S. This deal allows Planeta Junior to participate in the production and strategy for ZAG’s Miraculous World from the outset, especially in Europe. The next four years will see the development of new series and film characters, as well as major licensing programmes. We are delighted to be part of this Universe.
L.I. What will the key Planeta Junior 2021 properties be?
I.S. Miraculous, Gormiti, Pucca and latest ZAG creation: Power Players. We are also exploring new opportunities for our two classic series: Maya and Heidi.
Global phenomenon Miraculous has achieved incredible TV and digital ratings, with over 13 billion views on YouTube and 88 million app downloads.
Super! our Italian Free-to-air TV partner has confirmed this huge audience success, and will air the latest set of new episodes from the third series (launched in March,) in October. Disney + continues to broadcast the series with brilliant results.
And in addition to the TV series, three TV specials will be launched between the end of 2020 and the end of 2021 and Miraculous the film will be released between the end of 2021 and the start of 2022. Such increased exposure will strengthen the commercial potential of the franchise.
Gormiti is another of our major properties. It was born out of our partnership with Giochi Preziosi (who coproduce and are our Master Toy partner). Kotoc, who created the series and ensure the quality and wealth of characters and stories, are the third coproducer. RAI is our Free TV partner in Italy, and is achieving excellent results on RAI YoYo and RAI Gulp. Season 3 will premiere in September. Gormiti is becoming increasingly international, and is now broadcast in over 20 countries as well as on Netflix and Prime. This will improve its potential for Christmas and 2021.
Power Players, (ZAG animation’s new animated series, coproduced by Planeta Junior,) is unquestionably our standout new title for 2020. It targets over 4 year-olds and tells the story of a boy who stars in incredible adventures with his toys. The series has achieved massive programming thanks to our partnership with Cartoon Network/Boing, and will launch on Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Boing in Spring followed by Cartoonito in September.
Lifestyle property Pucca has great international, cross target appeal and reaches everyone from Generation Z to young children. We started out with a more adult target and a digital strategy that achieved incredible results, including 130 million YouTube views. Seasons 1 and 2 are available online on platforms including Tim Vision and Netflix, and we are defining our Season 3 Italian TV partner to reach younger audiences.
L.I. What are your main strategic IP objectives?
I.S. Our key strategies seek more intense opportunities and partnerships with retailers and licensees to perfect increasingly attractive consumer proposals. Consumers are at the heart of our strategy. They are increasingly demanding, and looking for better purchasing experiences, which poses a real challenge to the industry. Licenses can make a significant contribution to improving experiences.
We are also focused on product development, and support our partners by providing new inspiring materials in addition to classic style guides. We’re going to implement these macro strategies for our key properties. They illustrate our renewed business approach.
L.I. How has the tough COVID-19 period influenced these objectives? How are you adapting your strategies?
I.S. This period slowed calendars down and left many projects pending, which has made it essential to redefine strategies, delivery deadlines and implementation methods. The internet was an effective answer to the speed with which we all had to adapt to the tough reality and new behaviours.
It has now become a vital tool for content, communication and sales and we will carry on developing digital in an integrated and strategic manner, alongside more traditional platforms, and hand-in-hand with our retailers and licensees.
L.I. How will your strategies adapt to the Italian market, post-lockdown?
I.S. We will work with even greater synergy and focus on our licensees and retailers, integrating online initiatives focused on Christmas 2020, and providing support focused on Gormiti, Miraculous and Power Players. We are simultaneously finalizing plans for 2020/2021. The COVID crisis strengthened our ability to create, our spirit of flexibility and a great sense of working together.
L.I. Licensing International is promoting an awareness-raising campaign to encourage the development of sustainable licensing programmes. We are their Italian office. What’s Planeta Junior’s position as a Licensor?
I.S. We often integrate sustainability messages in our properties, under various focuses. For example, Gormiti characters represent the elements of nature and provide a unique content. Pucca focuses and campaigns on social and environmental issues.
Maya and Heidi probably have the most intrinsic sustainability messages. These iconic brands target the entire family.
Maya has great and currently under-exploited potential. In addition to nostalgia, she provides a unique perspective on sustainability. There is no better brand ambassador for campaigns to protect bees and biodiversity.
Heidi is also a classic IP that everyone recognises. She has very positive, contemporary values tied to respect for nature, diversity and inclusion. We’re really interested in Licensing Italia’s initiative to make the most of this opportunity!